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The Ultimate EHR Value: Saving Lives

By Margaret Schulte, consultant, HIMSS EHR Value Suite Collection

Electronic health records (EHRs) help to reduce mortality rates in hospitals, according to the results of a Healthgrades and HIMSS Analytics study. The results showed a link between a hospital’s electronic medical record adoption model (EMRAM) score and its quality performance, as measured by predicted, actual rates of mortality.  

The findings of this seminal study are highly encouraging to those seeking evidence supportive of the clinical benefits of an EHR. Clinical performance, based on the actual number of mortalities, was significantly better for hospitals with high EMRAM scores than it was for hospitals with low EMRAM scores, indicating a relationship between the use of an EHR and the actual outcome. Improvements in the predicted mortality rate indicate that hospitals with advanced EHR capabilities are able to capture more information about the patient. This improved data capture allows clinicians to better manage patients in the hospital, resulting in more positive predicted clinical outcomes. One example is mortality from heart attacks. As reported in Healthcare IT News, the mortality rate at facilities with high EMRAM scores (9 percent) is half that of heart attack mortality at facilities with low EMRAM scores (18 percent).

Bottom line: The study found that hospitals with more advanced EHRs were able to predict mortality rates for a range of conditions and were then able to use clinical interventions to improve outcomes. Read the full report 

These results play out for hospitals and healthcare systems over and over again as reflected in the HIMSS EHR Value Suite Collection of stories and reports of measurable value related to the use of information technology. For example, at Charleston Area Medical Center, the EHR’s increased automation and data integration resulted in 1,613 lives saved from 2011 to 2014. Here are a few more examples from the HIMSS EHR Value Suite Collection:

  • Lakeland Healthcare estimated that 32 lives were saved in 18 months due to improved sepsis treatment.   
  • At MultiCare Health System, approximately 108 diabetic patients lives were saved.
  • Sutter Health reported that mortality from severe sepsis or septic shock was reduced from 19 percent to 11 percent within four months of clinical decision support program implementation.  
  • At Texas Health Resources, cardiac arrests decreased by 23 percent over a 12-month period due to vital sign early warning.
  • University of California-Davis Health System reported that, with the support of EHR clinical data, sepsis mortality dropped by 54 patients in the first year after implementation.
  • Florida Hospital reported reduced mortality rates due to the elimination of gaps in clinical documentation.

For clinicians, this is great news. The EHR is an essential tool in helping them do what they do best. While further studies of the relationship between EHR implementation and clinical performance are needed, the human side of the optimal use of technology can contribute to improved outcomes. Clearly hospitals and health systems are moving toward that optimal use. This is also great news for patients!

Learn more from the 2016 recipients of the HIMSS Davies Awards of Excellence during their educational sessions.

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